Blizzard Warning for Most of NJ: Snow Arrives Tonight
Heavy snow and a fierce wind will severely reduce visibility through the weekend, with moderate to major coastal flooding likely as well.
The map above represents the most likely snow forecast for our impending nor'easter, based on all available data and information. I am very comfortable with our going forecast - any higher would be overly alarming, and lower would miss the mark of this big snowstorm. However, even though we're now less than a day away from the first snowflakes, there are admittedly still a few critical question marks regarding the forecast:
--Models continue to trend cooler, so the rain-snow line should hug New Jersey's south coast pretty closely on Saturday. (Rain would, of course, limit snow accumulations and make for a incredibly slushy mess.)
--The location of super-heavy snow bands is nearly impossible to pinpoint outside of a few hours in advance. This storm has some incredible energy wrapped up inside it, so mesoscale (small-scale) snow bands will probably set up somewhere at some point. If these are more widespread than I expect, well, you might want to take the "over" bet on my forecast. (Yes, the NAM model continues to pump out some outrageous snow totals across the entire state... But it also continues to be the outlier solution among all major models.)
--The cutoff between beaucoop snow and measly snow totals at the northern edge of this nor'easter is going to be incredibly tight. Again, our forecast map above offers our best guess at the location this transition line across North/Central Jersey - yes, it's an educated guess. From the top to the middle of the state, snow accumulations could very well range from 0 to 12 inches. One little "wiggle" in the storm track would cause millions of people to from nothing to something big. I'm admittedly really happy I don't have to make a detailed forecast for New York City - the snow total difference among all five boroughs could be huge (and so pretty much unpredictable).
The National Weather Service upgraded New Jersey's watches to warnings early this morning. For your convenience, we have developed a comprehensive primer on winter weather warning types. Remember, a "Warning" means dangerous weather is imminent, occurring, or extremely likely.
A Blizzard Warning goes into effect from Midnight tonight through 10 a.m. Sunday for the following counties: Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Essex, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Salem, Somerset, and Union.
A Winter Storm Warning has been issued for the rest of the state: Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May, Cumberland, Hunterdon, Morris, Passaic, and Warren.
A Winter Weather Advisory calls for lower snow totals for Sussex County.
A Coastal Flood Warning and High Wind Warning are out for the Jersey Shore.
Snow: 0 to 18+ inches
Please refer to our snow map above for a full depiction of our snowfall forecast. Here's a text rundown for you:
--A large swath of 12 to 18 inches are expected south of New Brunswick (exit 9 on the NJ Turnpike).
--Locally higher snow amounts, up to 2 feet, are possible from snow squalls within this "snow squall".
--Along the coast (especially south of Seaside Heights), final snow totals could be limited to 6 inches (or less) as some mixing with or transition to rain is possible.
--From New Brunswick northward to Interstate 78, our forecast calls for 8 to 12 inches of accumulation.
--Between Interstate 78 and Interstate 80, upwards of 6 to 8 inches are expected.
--North of Interstate 80, snow totals should be limited to about 6 inches or less.
What exactly is a BLIZZARD? I'm glad you asked. It actually has nothing to do with how much snow falls.
And, for the record, I refuse to call this snowstorm a "blizzard" until these conditions actually verify. It's been a very long time since New Jersey has experienced a true, widespread, textbook blizzard.
Sustained winds will max out at about 25 to 35 mph on Saturday, with gusts over 60 mph (especially along the coast). The wind, combined with the heavy snow, will reduce visibility severely during the peak of the storm. Travel will be very difficult and nearly impossible at times.
Those fierce northeasterly winds could cause downed trees, power outages, and potentially dangerous wind chills too.
--Ocean Waves: 14 to 20 feet
--Storm Surge: 3 to 4 feet (remember, tidal levels are already on the high side due to the full moon)
--Tidal Flooding: Moderate to Major, for all coastal areas
--Peak Surge: the times of the twice-daily high tide, especially Saturday evening and Sunday morning
The peak of the storm will generally be SATURDAY, especially from sunrise to sunset. Yes, we should make it through Friday's daytime hours unscathed - it is truly the calm before the storm. Time to finish preparations, and get ready to hunker down for Friday night, Saturday, and at least part of Sunday.
This snowstorm's first flakes will fall over the southwest corner of New Jersey (along the Delaware Bay) this evening. That snow will continue to spread northward and increasein intensity through the overnight hours. Winds will jump up dramatically after Midnight Friday night
The worst-of-the-worst of the storm will occur throughout Saturday morning and afternoon across South Jersey, from mid-morning through early evening in Central Jersey, and from Saturday afternoon into Saturday night for North Jersey.
Snow will largely taper off by daybreak on Sunday, with snow showers possible through midday. Skies will start to clear Sunday afternoon, although a marginally gusty wind will likely remain as the nor'easter pulls away.
Be safe, be smart, and stay warm, New Jersey!